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Binge Watchin' TV Review: Doctor Who

10.18.2016

Welcome to Binge Watchin,’ where we take a look at some of the best TV shows available on streaming or disc that have a great catalogue of seasons to jump into and get sucked into the beautiful bliss of binge watching! From crime, action, comedy, drama, animation, etc., we’ll be evaluating an assortment of shows that will hopefully serve as a gateway to your next binge experience.

BBC America, Doctor Who, Science Fiction, Binge Watchin' TV Review, TV Review, Drama, Fantasy, Matt Smith, David Tennant. Peter Capaldi, Christopher Eccleston, Karen GIllan, Billie Piper

Series: Doctor Who

Number of Seasons: 35 (826 episodes and one television movie to date)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Blu-Ray/DVD, Netflix

BBC America, Doctor Who, Science Fiction, Binge Watchin' TV Review, TV Review, Drama, Fantasy, Matt Smith, David Tennant. Peter Capaldi, Christopher Eccleston, Karen GIllan, Billie Piper

What’s the show about? 

Doctor Who follows the travels of the mysterious alien known only as The Doctor. Armed with a vast intellect and unending curiosity, The Doctor travels through the infinite reaches of space and time and involves himself in the lives and travails of men, women, children, robots and aliens alike. Commonly joined by a human companion, The Doctor tries to do right by those he crosses paths with...or at the very least fix the mess caused by his arrival. With the ability to regenerate upon his death, The Doctor has existed for over 900 years as he attempts to make up for past transgressions at his hands and the hands of Time Lords like him. Along the way, he learns the meaning of fear, love and the pleasure of fish fingers and custard.

BBC America, Doctor Who, Science Fiction, Binge Watchin' TV Review, TV Review, Drama, Fantasy, Matt Smith, David Tennant. Peter Capaldi, Christopher Eccleston, Karen GIllan, Billie Piper

Why should I watch it?

Doctor Who is one of those shows that everyone has heard of but only a fraction have actually watched. Virtually as popular as James Bond in England, Doctor Who has only recently grown a substantial fan-base. For five decades, The Doctor has been the geek alternative to Star Trek and STAR WARS for enterprising nerds who want something intelligent and different than you traditional science fiction show. The best parallale I can draw to Doctor Who would be Joss Whedon's Buffy The Vampire Slayer which shared a similar mix of humor, horror and unabashed cheese. Doctor Who is absolutely not for everyone but everyone who gives it a chance will likely find something they enjoy about it.

I myself only truly got into Doctor Who during the Matt Smith seasons, which is to say fairly recently. The 2005 reboot of the classic BBC serials continued the narrative of the first 26 seasons of the film and the poorly received FOX television movie that was meant to bring the character to North America. Starting with a lone season starring Christopher Eccleston as a more serious and gritty Doctor, the show morphed when David Tennant took over the sonic screwdriver and threw a good amount of whimsy into the part. After Tennant, the young Matt Smith portrayed a very unique take on The Doctor before handing over the mantle to the current incarnation played by the awesomely snarky Peter Capaldi. What makes Doctor Who stand out compared to other franchises with rotating stars is that the narrative remains consistent. The reboot in 2005 managed to keep everything from the previous four decades in continuity while forging ahead in a 21st century manner.

BBC America, Doctor Who, Science Fiction, Binge Watchin' TV Review, TV Review, Drama, Fantasy, Matt Smith, David Tennant. Peter Capaldi, Christopher Eccleston, Karen GIllan, Billie Piper

Despite high budgets for a BBC series, the special effects on Doctor Who rarely exceed those of a SyFy original movie. It may be hard to look past the poor CGI but if you do you would manage to find one of the best written series since The Twilight Zone. Because there are no limits of logic or science on the show, Doctor Who can travel to any time or place in our reality or in a parallel dimension. Alternate histories where characters try to kill Hitler are followed by some of the most terrifying villains this side of The Borg. I dare you to watch any episode featuring the Weeping Angels and not feel your skin crawl. All the while, The Doctor manages to find new friends to take on his journey, including familiar faces like Billie Piper, John Barrowman, and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY star Karen Gillan. What Doctor Who lacks in budget it more than makes up for with original stories that have not repeated themselves in years. That is a feat even the longest running American series can rarely compete with.

Best season:

Excluding the classic runs of the BBC series, the best modern season of Doctor Who would have to be the fifth series which introduced Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor along with long running companion Amy Pond. While fans of the modern series seem to favor David Tennant, Matt Smith imbued the character with a youthfullness that had been absent from any of his predecessor's takes on the role. Smith somehow managed to play The Doctor as an ancient and wise old man but one trapped in the body of a twenty-something hipster. Karen Gillan also brought her best to the thankless job of the human who has to keep The Doctor from destroying our world or one of countless others in the universe. This season also introduced the aforementioned Weeping Angels in the episode "Blink" featuring a young Carey Mulligan.

Final thoughts:

Doctor Who may seem like a challenging show to get into, but the 2005 debut managed to allow audiences an entry point into the mythology that did not require previous knowledge of the character. Russel T. Davies and current showrunner Steven Moffat have managed to introduce references and callbacks to characrers from the hundreds of preceding episodes which allows viewers a chance to research and learn all about this established fictional universe while others can just enjoy the show for what it is. I would highly recommend tuning into the reruns often aired on PBS or BBC America as the episodes work just as well as standalone hours while working like a serial drama if you binge watch it. I have yet to meet someone who hasn't tried at least a handful of episodes of Doctor Who and not wanted to go back for more. With such a vast catalog to pull from, I think this could be your next multi night binge obsession.

Source: JoBlo.com

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8:43AM on 10/19/2016
Clearly not the popular opinion here, but...
I'm more of a fan of classic Doctor Who myself. What the modern incarnations have gained in terms of production values, they've lost big time with regards to tone and consistency. Modern Doctor Who has a tendency towards silliness and having the companions' relationships as a focal feature. As such recent series have been incredibly patchy in terms of storytelling - every now and then they get a great writer on board who does something genuinely
Clearly not the popular opinion here, but...
I'm more of a fan of classic Doctor Who myself. What the modern incarnations have gained in terms of production values, they've lost big time with regards to tone and consistency. Modern Doctor Who has a tendency towards silliness and having the companions' relationships as a focal feature. As such recent series have been incredibly patchy in terms of storytelling - every now and then they get a great writer on board who does something genuinely clever with the premise, but two or three genuinely great episodes per season becomes pretty tiresome. I think Capaldi has genuine potential, but the season they're currently finishing production on will be significant - they've got a new companion starting who hopefully won't be the entire focus of the show like Clara was in Capaldi's early run.
Classic Doctor Who, as dated as the pacing and effects may feel to watch now, is infinitely stronger in terms of the sci-fi concepts they created and tackled. Modern Who is often bombastically scored bullshit, masquerading as high-concept drama.
I still watch the new stuff and they sometimes have decent episodes, but the oldschool stuff is so much more worthy television. For the record I started watching the show towards the end of the Tom Baker era. For all its hokey elements, older Doctor Who is far, far superior to most of the modern stuff. They've had some seriously bad storylines and too much reliance on "comedy" in more recent Doctor Who.
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5:28AM on 10/19/2016
I watched Eccelston's first episode when it first aired and was intrigued, but the second episode didn't do much so I gave up there until I heard how much people were loving Matt Smith. I went back and started with the "first" season again and I'm so glad I did. There's far too many inside jokes from time to time that I'd hate to miss out on and this has become my absolute favorite show. I've seen a few of the Classic Who episodes and I enjoy some, but think I'll just stick with the modern
I watched Eccelston's first episode when it first aired and was intrigued, but the second episode didn't do much so I gave up there until I heard how much people were loving Matt Smith. I went back and started with the "first" season again and I'm so glad I did. There's far too many inside jokes from time to time that I'd hate to miss out on and this has become my absolute favorite show. I've seen a few of the Classic Who episodes and I enjoy some, but think I'll just stick with the modern stuff. As far as favorite Doctor goes, it's hard to pick just one. They all bring something unique to the role while also keeping something to show that this is in fact the same character. It's easier to pick a companion, which for me is Amy Pond (and Rory of course) followed by Clara. Both have a lot of spunk and keep the Doctor in check when he gets out of hand. I suppose that moves Donna higher on the list than I thought too.
In the end I'd say there really is something for everyone, even if you're not a "science fiction person" there's something here that you'll enjoy.
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12:37AM on 10/19/2016
Pretty much got into the show through Clara (rule of thumb with this show: always jump in when a new companion or Doctor comes along. It's like a brand new show within the show). As for bingeing, I've found the modern series is easier to do than the classic series, it was ultimately what turned me off to the original run (for context, classic: 4-5x30 min. episodes per serial. modern: 1-2x60 min. episodes. Meaning, mostly even if you miss one you're not lost).

As for favorite Doctor so
Pretty much got into the show through Clara (rule of thumb with this show: always jump in when a new companion or Doctor comes along. It's like a brand new show within the show). As for bingeing, I've found the modern series is easier to do than the classic series, it was ultimately what turned me off to the original run (for context, classic: 4-5x30 min. episodes per serial. modern: 1-2x60 min. episodes. Meaning, mostly even if you miss one you're not lost).

As for favorite Doctor so far, I go with Eccleston's 9th, with Capaldi's 12th and Tennant's... 10th tied. Guy could go from snarky, goofy, daring and menacing in the blink of an eye and most forget he had one season to set the tone for the modern show. Companion-wise, it's a tie with Clara and Donna, Donna was the best for 10 knocking him down a peg and Clara, got me into the show (my big gripe with her is that even though her fractions were my entry point and Coleman more than held her own, we still don't get much in terms of information about Clara personally like the past companions, in spite having the title of longest serving)
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12:18AM on 10/19/2016
I've been watching since Eccleston, and while I loved Tennant, Matt Smith is my Doctor. He was the best. He got some of the best plotlines, some of the best dialogue, and of course three of the best companions, Amy, Rory, and Clara (and let us not forget River Song... Spoilers). And as much as I love Matt Smith, Capaldi, I've found, is equally engaging. You'll have to forgive him his first season, which was very poorly written (save for a few episodes, including his premiere and an episode
I've been watching since Eccleston, and while I loved Tennant, Matt Smith is my Doctor. He was the best. He got some of the best plotlines, some of the best dialogue, and of course three of the best companions, Amy, Rory, and Clara (and let us not forget River Song... Spoilers). And as much as I love Matt Smith, Capaldi, I've found, is equally engaging. You'll have to forgive him his first season, which was very poorly written (save for a few episodes, including his premiere and an episode called "Listen", which I'd consider his "Blink"), but Capaldi's season 9 has been probably the best seasons of Doctor Who I've had the pleasure of watching. And as for Matt Smith, his season 6 is probably my favorite. All time favorite episodes, though, would be "Day of the Doctor", "Time of the Doctor", and "Deep Breath".

For anyone just starting, there are a few jumping points which will let you get into the series. Obviously, you can go back to the very beginning, but even I haven't been able to get into those episodes yet. My best recommendation would be to start with Eccleston's season, which aired in 2005 and served as a sort of reboot for the series, as it hadn't been on air for decades at that time. But you will have to forgive some pretty shoddy effects; for Eccleston's series, as well as Tennant's and the beginning of Smith's, you will be watching for the story and the characters, not the spectacle. Be prepared. Another great starting point would be with Matt Smith's Doctor in Series 5, as this was when not only the Doctor changed, but so did his companion, and the showrunner of the series (switching from Russell T. Davies to Stephen Moffat, who is still running the show until he steps down at the end of series 10). I think to fully enjoy this show, you should start with Eccleston, but if you just can't deal with the crappy cgi, jumping onboard with Smith is a great place to start (although, I'd recommend getting a taste of Tennant and watching "Blink" and "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead" as they introduce some major characters that will have a bigger role in Smith's run).
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10:57PM on 10/18/2016
The whole Amy Pond/Rory/River Song saga was truly great, but I still think the most enjoyable episodes on the modern Doctor Who show is with the 10th Doctor and Donna Noble.
The whole Amy Pond/Rory/River Song saga was truly great, but I still think the most enjoyable episodes on the modern Doctor Who show is with the 10th Doctor and Donna Noble.
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+0
8:56PM on 10/18/2016

Can't stand Capaldi....

I've completely given up on the show until he's gone. The writing has been bad, they wasted what might have been the most interesting companion in years (maybe ever), and I find nothing appealing about his overacting and faux snark. He's just a dick who randomly does dickish things just to remind you that he's a dick. B-O-R-I-N-G.

Tennant was better as an actor than Smith, but I agree that Smith brought a silliness to the character that had been missing for a really long time. This is a
I've completely given up on the show until he's gone. The writing has been bad, they wasted what might have been the most interesting companion in years (maybe ever), and I find nothing appealing about his overacting and faux snark. He's just a dick who randomly does dickish things just to remind you that he's a dick. B-O-R-I-N-G.

Tennant was better as an actor than Smith, but I agree that Smith brought a silliness to the character that had been missing for a really long time. This is a goofball who was disowned by his people and has been kicking around the universe for centuries, so playing him too seriously gets old. If he was that serious, he wouldn't need companions.....
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3:53PM on 10/18/2016

love it

my favorite thing period. own it all, seen it all starting from good old william hartnell!
my favorite thing period. own it all, seen it all starting from good old william hartnell!
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12:50PM on 10/18/2016

Tennant > Smith

"Blink" was a David Tennant episode, during Freema Agyeman's run as companion. It really is one of the best episodes, and that is by far the best season.
"Blink" was a David Tennant episode, during Freema Agyeman's run as companion. It really is one of the best episodes, and that is by far the best season.
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8:59PM on 10/18/2016
Blink is easily the best episode ever (funny as it contained so little of the Doctor), but I still think Smith's first season was the best. They told better multi-episode story arcs, the companion was outstanding, and Smith did a great tightrope between being a goof and being a badass.

But yeah, when it comes to acting (or their overall stint as the Doctor), Tennant is easily the best who's ever appeared on the show.
Blink is easily the best episode ever (funny as it contained so little of the Doctor), but I still think Smith's first season was the best. They told better multi-episode story arcs, the companion was outstanding, and Smith did a great tightrope between being a goof and being a badass.

But yeah, when it comes to acting (or their overall stint as the Doctor), Tennant is easily the best who's ever appeared on the show.
11:04AM on 10/18/2016

great to see some love for doctor who!!

As a true whovian I do however feel it is my duty to point out that the excellent epiaode blink was not featured in the fifth, but rather the third series. Starring David Tennant as the doctor
As a true whovian I do however feel it is my duty to point out that the excellent epiaode blink was not featured in the fifth, but rather the third series. Starring David Tennant as the doctor
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